**I often think that the night is more alive and more richly colored than the day.**
Vincent Van Gogh
LARGEST QUAKES so far today -
5.8 SOUTHERN SUMATRA, INDONESIA
6.6 TAIWAN REGION
Yesterday, 4/19/15 -
5.3 NORTHERN SUMATRA, INDONESIA
5.3 IZU ISLANDS, JAPAN REGION
5.3 MAURITIUS - REUNION REGION
5.4 OFF E. COAST OF N. ISLAND, N.Z.
6.5 FIJI REGION
5.3 CRETE, GREECE
5.2 RYUKYU ISLANDS, JAPAN
5.0 RYUKYU ISLANDS, JAPAN
Powerful quake hits Taiwan and Japan, tsunami warning lifted - One man died and another was hospitalised on Monday in a fire caused by a powerful quake off Taiwan that also set buildings shaking in the capital Taipei and sparked a short-lived tsunami warning in far southwestern Japan. Japanese forecasters had warned the 6.6 magnitude earthquake could cause a tsunami as high as one metre (three feet) affecting several islands in the Okinawa chain, but lifted the alert around an hour later, with no abnormal waves recorded.
No damage was reported in Japan, but a four-storey apartment building in part of New Taipei City caught ablaze after an electrical box outside the block exploded in the quake. One elderly man who lived in the building "showed no signs of life" at the scene, the fire service said. Another resident was hospitalised after choking in the blaze. Residents and office workers were evacuated from a building in central Taipei because of a feared gas leak and reports said several vehicles were trapped in the basement. It was not immediately clear if there were any people stuck with their cars.
In Japan, local authorities urged people to move away from the coast and seek higher ground, in a drill that has become fairly regular in a country prone to powerful earthquakes and occasional devastating tsunamis. "We are issuing warnings via the radio. We want residents to get as far as possible from the sea." Boats were seen sailing out to sea - common practice when a tsunami warning is issued because away from the coast, a tsunami is little different from a swell. However, an hour after the quake, the Japan Meteorological Agency cancelled the warning.
The US Geological Survey said the 6.6 magnitude quake, which Japanese authorities had originally put at 6.8, struck 71 kilometres (44 miles) east of Hualien, Taiwan at 0143 GMT. In Tokyo, officials were still collecting information, but that the quake did not appear to have done serious damage. Japan sits at the confluence of four of the earth's tectonic plates and records more than 20 percent of the planet's most powerful earthquakes every year. Strict building codes and a long familiarity with the dangers mean quakes that might cause devastation in other parts of the world are frequently uneventful in Japan. However, occasional disasters prove exceptionally deadly, and more than 18,000 people were killed by a huge tsunami that smashed into the northeast coast in 2011 after a huge 9.0 magnitude earthquake.
The chief of Taiwan's Seismology Center, warned there could be more quakes. "This was the third quake measuring more than 6.0 magnitude in Taiwan so far this year - we would not rule out the likelihood that there might be more strong quakes of this scale."
Rare oarfish creates a buzz in New Zealand - A nearly 10-foot-long oarfish washed ashore along a New Zealand salt marsh. Oarfish rarely wash ashore, but when one does the bizarre-looking sea creature usually creates a bit of a stir, as one did the other day on the southeastern coast of the south island of New Zealand.
A man was walking along the salt marsh in Aramoana when he encountered on the beach an unusual sea creature that some have previously mistaken for some sort of sea serpent. He phoned the Department of Conservation service manager and asked him to come take a look. “It was very unusual looking."
In his 20 years at DOC, the manager had never seen anything like it, so on Thursday morning he contacted the New Zealand Marine Studies Centre and asked if theycould identify the sea creature. “From his description I guessed it would be an oarfish and when his photos came through it was confirmed. There are thought to be only two species and this is the southern one, Regalecus glesne.”
This oarfish was nearly 10 feet long, but they can grow up to 36 feet; an 18-footer was discovered off California in 2013. Oarfish are typically found in deep water in tropical oceans. Not surprisingly, the find created quite a buzz. “Little is known about the oarfish. When this was dissected, its stomach was full of krill. Other specimens have also been found stuffed full of krill. They have been some caught on video in recent years and they have been observed swimming vertically with their pectoral fins out to the side, which is how they get their name `oarfish.’”
It is rare to find an oarfish washed up in this area — only five reports of them over the past 150 years, the last being in nearby Dunedin in 1998. “The oarfish was in great shape. Its stomach was full, so it did not starve to death. It seems the strandings often occur after earthquakes or storms, and we have just had a storm here, so I think it just got washed in and stranded on the salt marsh.”[Site note - Oarfish washing ashore have sometimes been viewed as a sign of impending earthquakes.]
TROPICAL STORMS -
No current tropical storms.
SEVERE RAIN STORMS, FLOODING, LANDSLIDES -
Cars Battle High Waters After Flash Floods in Houston, Texas - Intense rains came down hard and fast in Houston, Texas on Friday night, leading to flash flooding in the area. Houston was hit with rainfall rates of 2-3 inches an hour. The heaviest rain hit the south side of Houston, near the suburbs of Pasadena. The rain was expected to continue throughout the night.
EXTREME HEAT & DROUGHT / WILDFIRES -
March 2015: Another WARMEST MONTH ON RECORD FOR THE PLANET - March 2015 was Earth's warmest March since global record keeping began in 1880, said NOAA's National Climatic Data Center on Friday. NASA rated March 2015 as the 3rd warmest March on record.
Wildfire threatens 300 homes in drought-stricken Southern California - A wildfire near Corona, California, is threatening at least 300 homes as 335 firefighters work to quell it. The "Highway Fire" was incinerating 300 acres in Riverside County, east of Los Angeles, early Sunday, and emergency officials have evacuated many residents. Others were in a dilemma about how to react to the potential danger to their homes.
The fire's rapid spread has caught some by surprise. Officials first became aware of it through reports of trees on fire early Saturday. It jumped quickly from 30 acres of coverage to 175 acres over the course of the day. By early Sunday, it had nearly doubled to 300 acres. "This is an example of what the drought has done, these fuel conditions, normally this wouldn't burn in this kind of area."
The spread of the fire was described as "aggressive." Around 1 a.m. Pacific time, firefighters had the blaze 15% contained. So far, no one has been reported injured, and no homes reported burned. But residents' homes are in imminent danger. The probability of some catching fire on a scale of one to 10 is "at a six". (video at link)
Despite Seattle’s reputation for rainy weather, Washington's governor declared a drought emergency in nearly half the state on Friday, warning that the classification could encompass the entire state by early May. Last month, a drought emergency had been declared in three regions of Washington state.
“This is an ongoing emergency, and we’re going to have some long, hard months ahead of us. We’re moving quickly so that we’re prepared to provide relief to farms and fish this summer.” Experts said rainfall in the state is normal, but snowpack is just 24 percent of the norm, meaning river flow will be much lower than usual. Washington state last declared a drought in 2005.
'GLOBAL WEIRDNESS' -
Scientists in Norway think it may be raining worms in parts of the country. - A biologist came across thousands of earthworms scattered across the mountains while out skiing. They were unlikely to have tunnelled through the snow because it was too deep, so it appears they rained down from the sky.
I saw thousands of earthworms on the surface of the snow. When I put them in my hand I found that they were alive." Worms start to emerge from the ground towards the end of winter, and it's possible that some were swept up by strong wind. It's not unusual for the mountainous areas of Norway to experience high winds, so the worms could have been carried quite a distance, before falling back to Earth as earthworm rain.
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